The Keystone XL Pipeline: What Now?

by Claire Morgenstern, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Last month in a landmark speech on climate, President Obama announced that he would not approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if it will drive more global pollution and more climate chaos.

We already have clear and compelling evidence that this carbon-spewing behemoth would do exactly that, detailed in a new report released this week by NRDC (read the full environmental and economic analysis here). But basically what it means is that the President’s climate promise could be a game-changer in the fight against tar sands oil.

It also means that it’s more critical than ever that we call on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL. NRDC is pulling out all the stops this summer — in the media, on Capitol Hill and at the White House itself — to prove that the Keystone XL is a climate-destroying monster that the President has no choice but to reject. That includes running this powerful ad in The Washington Post, which features a letter from 10 Nobel Laureates calling on President Obama to show leadership by rejecting the pipeline, and this new hard-hitting video from Robert Redford exposing tar sands oil for the environmental disaster that it is — and rallying hundreds of thousands to make their voices heard inside the White House.

Here are the facts: the Keystone XL would pump more than 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude, one of the world’s dirtiest, planet-cooking fuels. It’s the linchpin of the oil industry’s plan to more than triple tar sands production by 2030, which will drive 250 percent more global warming pollution than it did just three years ago.

Canada’s tar sands contain a carbon reservoir equivalent to all the carbon burned in human history. Simply put, if the Obama Administration approves the Keystone XL, it will light the fuse on that carbon bomb and trigger still more climate upheaval, leaving none of us unscathed.

While the oil industry rakes in billions of dollars, the rest of us will pay the price in climate disruption for decades to come.

Meanwhile, we are getting clear signs of what the future will bring if the Keystone XL gets built. The Exxon tar sands pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas last March coated a suburban neighborhood with hundreds of thousands of gallons of tar sands crude, the massive toxic waste spill from an oil and gas operation in Alberta last month killed “every plant and tree” in its path and most frighteningly, the level of heat-trapping CO2 in our atmosphere just cracked the once-unthinkable barrier of 400 parts per million — and is well on its way to 450 unless we take drastic action to reverse course.

Right now, that’s still possible! Standard & Poor’s has stated that the tar sands industry is depending on the Keystone XL to move tar sands oil to overseas markets. And analysts at Goldman Sachs say that without the pipeline, the development of Alberta’s tar sands would be greatly slowed and its climate impacts significantly reduced.

So let’s say you’re President Obama and you’re submitting the Keystone XL to a climate test. Rejecting the pipeline should be a no-brainer, right?

But the President’s State Department just doesn’t seem to get it — which is particularly unfortunate since they’re the ones charged with evaluating the pipeline’s environmental impacts. The department’s latest review merely parrots Big Oil’s bankrupt assertion that the Keystone XL will not drive tar sands expansion or increase global warming pollution.

So what now? Will President Obama go along with that charade? Or will he have the courage to slam shut the floodgates on a river of climate-destroying, tar sands crude?

It’s up to us to hold the President to his promise on climate … and we must do so swiftly, loudly and relentlessly. Before it’s too late.

Take Action Now: Tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline once and for all.


Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K5 years ago

What's truly nuts, besides the environmental impact, is the whole issue with eminent domain. Nice to know your property is your private property (not).

Nan Thompson
Nan Thompson5 years ago

From a person that has 4 lines running through her yard...
We need them to stop lying to us...
They need to find better ways...
Enough is enough...
It's a hard fight, because they work under the pretense that it is for the GOOD of all people to provide Natural gas... I hope this helps!!!

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Linda F.
.5 years ago

think of the future. how many leaks can you take? these pipes are already rusted and the company is in the news daily with another catastrophe

Karen Bennick
Karen Bennick5 years ago

No tar sands pipeline. They cannot stop the leaks. Sanding the inside of the pipes like sandpaper on wood.
Dirty, stinking oil polluting our soil, water and air should never be allowed.
No to fracking also.

Jane H.
Jane H5 years ago

Climate change, ie. global warming should be our top priority, because the consequences are so dire.

Sarah Baker
Sarah Baker5 years ago

And not just the climate change - think what this will do to food production!

Bill K.
Bill K5 years ago

We may well stop Keystone XL.. There are tens of others that are sailing through the "regulatory" process unhindered, under the radar . . .

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago


Fay W.
Lia r5 years ago

Monsanto creates GMO crops that are resistant to their pesticides, just so they can spray MORE pesticides. The damage created my Monsanto is far reaching and more detrimental effects will surface as we learn about the long term consequences... I'm afraid by then it may be too late.

The only solution is to support organic agriculture.